Venous ultrasound uses sound waves to produce images of the veins in the body. Another common name used is “Doppler.” The most common reason for a venous ultrasound or Doppler is to search for blood clots, especially in the veins of the leg. This condition often referred to as deep vein thrombosis or DVT. These clots may break off and pass into the lungs, where they can cause a dangerous condition called pulmonary embolism. If the blood clot in the extremity is found early enough, treatment can be started to prevent it from passing to the lungs. 

A venous ultrasound exam is also performed to determine the cause of long-standing leg swelling in people with a common condition called “varicose veins.” The valves that normally keep blood flowing back to the heart may be damaged, and venous ultrasound can help identify the damaged valves and abnormal blood flow. 

What are the symptoms of deep vein thrombosis? 

Deep vein thrombosis may happen without symptoms. Common symptoms include pain, swelling, and redness in the leg, arm or other areas. 

What are the risk factors for deep vein thrombosis? 

  • A long period of not moving, for example, sitting job or when on a long trip by car or airplane 
  • Blood clotting disorder 
  • Surgery 
  • Overweight 
  • Birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy 
  • Previous blood clot 
  • Varicose veins 
  • Pregnancy 
  • Lupus, a disease of the immune system 
  • Cancer and some cancer treatments 

How Should I Prepare? 

You should wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing for your ultrasound exam. You may need to remove all clothing and jewelry in the area to be examined. You may be asked to wear a gown during the procedure. Otherwise, there is no other special preparation for a venous ultrasound. 

During The Test: 

You will lie on an examination table. A warm, water-soluble gel is applied to the skin over the area to be examined. The gel does not harm your skin or stain your clothes. A probe is gently applied against the skin; however, there will be times that the technologist will need to push against the patient with the probe or squeeze an area. 

Your Result 

The result of the exam will be provided to the referring physician within 24 to 48 hours after it has been reviewed by a radiologist. However, if a blood clot is found, your doctor will be contacted immediately. 

What is the treatment for deep vein thrombosis? 

Specific treatment will be determined by your healthcare provider based on: 

  • How old you are 
  • Your overall health and medical history 
  • The location of the clot 
  • How well you can handle specific medicines, procedures or therapies 

The goal of treatment is to prevent the clot from getting larger, to prevent a clot from traveling to the lungs, and to decrease the chance of another blood clot forming 

How can deep vein thrombosis be prevented? 

  • Walk up and down the aisles (if traveling by plane or bus) 
  • Stop every so often and walk a little (if traveling by car) 
  • While sitting, move your legs, ankles, and toes 
  • Getting up and moving as soon as possible after surgery or illness